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EXCLUSIVE: Japanese group suspends overseas war memorial trips

  • August 14, 2021
  • , Jiji Press , 4:52 p.m.
  • English Press

Tokyo, Aug. 14 (Jiji Press)–A Japanese association for bereaved families of fallen World War II soldiers has suspended memorial trips abroad this year due to travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, association officials told Jiji Press Saturday.

 

The association, Nippon Izokukai, canceled some of the trips scheduled for fiscal 2021, which started in April. It is considering arranging domestic memorial trips in fiscal 2022, instead of overseas travel, because of the advanced ages of those bereaved family members.

 

“The average age of children of the fallen soldiers is around 80, and their participation into memorial trips is a battle against time,” an association official said.

 

The association started the overseas trips in fiscal 1991, in which participants visit places of fierce World War II battles, including Manchuria, now a northeastern part of China, and Palau and the Mariana Islands in the Pacific Ocean, and meet with local people. Nearly 16,000 people have participated in the trips.

 

But the pandemic forced the association to cancel four trips in fiscal 2019 and all 19 trips in fiscal 2020.

 

For fiscal 2021, 19 trips for a total of some 900 people were scheduled to take place between mid-August and March next year.

 

But nine of the trips, set for between August and November, were canceled due to restrictions including isolation upon arrival. The association may cancel the remaining trips as well, the sources said.

 

“It will be difficult to continue overseas trips if infections continue to grow,” said Toshiei Mizuochi, head of the association.

 

“Instead, we’ll consider making memorial trips to Okinawa and Iwoto,” Mizuochi, a member of the House of Councillors, said of two fierce World War II battlefields in Japan.

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